What Happens When Your Clients Only Want to Buy Digital?

It’s funny how time changes everything.  If you’ve been selling advertising for a while you remember when we gave banner ads on our websites as value add to a print program. This was when digital advertising was in its infancy.

Digital advertising distribution channels continue to evolve.

Early on publishers liked digital ads with their low overhead and high margins, we just weren’t sure how we were going to make up the big revenue that print ads generate.  Then came Native Advertising, video, podcasts, webinars, higher traffic and impressions. Suddenly we were seeing the money start to approach that of print.

Now I’m finding low or no digital inventory available on my site or newsletters during peak periods. I marvel at how that tide has turned. I recently got a signed contract for over $250,000 that included only four print ads.  That’s a big digital buy!

With the move toward more digital advertising, what’s happening to our magazines?

Print ads are down, folio sizes are smaller and suddenly many magazines appear to be more of a pamphlet than a publication.  I know you’ve noticed it, maybe even with your own titles.  It costs real money to design, print and mail a magazine.

Consequently, publishers are tempted to ride the digital tide and let the print product fall where it may.  That is a big mistake.

Why selling print advertising still matters.

Our print magazines are our brand. They come to life in the hands of our readers, pages turning, articles read, ads seen.  They end up on desks, in lobbies and on coffee tables for all eyes to see.  Our print publications were our first relationship with our audience and what developed their loyalty with our brand.  Even if some of our readers prefer our digital offerings, we can’t let our magazines die.

I recommend turning the tables and offering free print advertisements with a substantial digital buy.  It keeps the print product healthy and rewards the advertiser who has a tangible value add.  Of course, the best course is to show clients the benefits of a fully integrated ad campaign.

But adding value with print ads is a unique and visible perk. It just might help you win business from the competitor who wouldn’t consider such a bold incentive.  Think inside the box, your magazine and your brand. Then make an offer they can’t refuse.


More about Nancy: Nancy has been in advertising sales and publishing management since 1980 starting her career with oil & gas B2B magazines then moving to aviation and aerospace in 1986.  She is currently the Associate Publisher at AIN Publications, home to titles Aviation International News, Business Jet Traveler, Convention News, Airshow News and a dozen or so digital platforms.  She attributes her success in advertising sales to the relationships she forges with advertisers by providing them honest recommendations and solid market data.


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